Kevin Williams is Director of Welcome at Westfield Church, UCC of Killingly, CT
Scripture: Matthew 4:12-23, (CEB)
Now when Jesus heard that John was arrested, he went to Galilee. He left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum, which lies alongside the sea in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what Isaiah the prophet said:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
alongside the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who lived in the dark have seen a great light,
and a light has come upon those who lived in the region and in shadow of death.[a]
From that time Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!”
As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.”Right away, they left their nets and followed him. Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Jesus traveled throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues. He announced the good news of the kingdom and healed every disease and sickness among the people.
Reflection: Ever Changing Call
Each time I hear this week’s scripture, I laugh a little to myself. Because like many passages we read, we can be tempted to jump right to the good stuff. Jesus shows up. Says, “Come, follow me.” And the first Disciples do just that.
But what we miss is the fact that for Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, this is just a moment in time in their lives. They had lives before Jesus arrived which we know precious little about. Okay, so they were fishing. Why that? Why not carpenters or stone masons or farmers?
The reality of life is that it evolves. We tend to think of God’s call in our lives being a single moment in time. But in reality, as we grow and learn and live, our call can shift right along with it. These disciples were called first by God to fish. Presumably because they were skilled at it, and through that skill they could provide food for God’s people. It wasn’t until their encounter with Jesus that the call changed. A call to witness and learn. A call to question and answer. A call to embrace God in new and amazing ways.
When I look back, my own life has been a series of calls. A call to serve for a time as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. A call to be taught and then to teach others. A call to be a child and to become a parent. With each change in life, God asked new things of me based on what I had learned from prior experience.
In ministry it hasn’t been a straight path either. I was called to teach Sunday School. To lead a Children’s Choir. To direct Christmas Pageants and lead music at Vacation Bible School. To serve small rural churches in need of pulpit support and a larger church in working through growing pains into an even greater blessing to it’s community.
Each time the call changed, I felt what I can only imagine those early Disciples did. Fear and discomfort in stepping away from the known and comfortable. Uncertainty and shakiness about my ability to truly serve the new call. But more than anything else, the internal knowledge that change is what God was asking of me, and that God would be with me and support me through it all.
Maybe you’re in that place right now. You’re being asked to change from the call you knew to one you have yet to live into. And maybe you’re hearing the voice saying “Come, follow me," but you are clinging to your nets fearful that you can’t do what’s asked of you. It’s in these moments we need to remember that God never asks something of us without also standing by us. Remember that Jesus told those early disciples “I’ll show you how to fish for people.” The call included support, and yours does too.
So perhaps this message is a reminder to each of us to change our focus from uncertainty in ourselves to certainty in the God who sustains us. From fear of what we are walking away from to excitement of what we’re headed toward. May God’s promise to teach us always give us the confidence to step into our call wherever it may be, now and with every change yet to come in our lives.
Ever changing God, remind us that with each call you give us you also walk with us. Grant us the discernment to understand with every change you are there to teach us what’s next. And show us that you will always guide our steps along the way as we grow closer and closer to you. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those affected by the colder weather in New England this past weekend.
- For those grieving or suffering after shooting in Kansas City on Sunday left 2 dead and 15 injured, another in Texas left 2 dead and 5 injured, and another in Honolulu where two officers were killed responding to a stabbing.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the legacy and leadership of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as we celebrate his life and the fight for justice he championed.
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
This Week in History:
January 26, 1980 (40 years ago) The U.S. Olympic Committee votes to ask the International Olympic Committee to cancel or move the Moscow Olympics in response to Soviet military actions in Afghanistan. This lead to criticism by some nations about the U.S. using the games for political pressure. Canada, China, the Philippines, Chile, Argentina, Japan, and West Germany all joined the U.S. in the boycott while several European nations sent smaller delegations of athletes. One consequence of the boycott was that there was no delegate from Los Angeles present to receive the Antwerp Flag at closing ceremonies. The flag is traditionally given to the city scheduled to host the next Olympic games.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”